Given that Apple Stores are literal showcases where tens of thousands of dollars of electronics is made available just a few steps from public streets, it’s never been surprising that they’re targets for theft. Apple has always balanced the welcoming atmosphere of its stores with subtle-but-obvious security guards loitering in the background, but thanks to a recent uptick of robberies in California, it’s having to take further measures.
According to CBS Sacramento, Apple has contracted with the local police department to hire uniformed officers to stand guard in its stores. Since the officers began to provide a visible presence in stores, the police department says that there have been no further robberies. Apple is footing the bill, the police department said, meaning that there’s no additional cost to the taxpayer.
Just last week, the California state Attorney General announced charges against 17 suspects believed to have participated in a crime ring targeting Apple stores. Wearing hoodies, a group would enter an Apple Store and grab everything within sight from the display tables. A TV segment from ABC7 shows the group in action, and gives a timeline for some of the robberies. According to ABC7, there were at least 21 robberies of Apple stores in California this summer, sometimes hitting the same store multiple times. Each haul netted around $30,000 in stolen goods.
Although the value of the stolen Apple products might be north of $1 million, the theives are likely to have netted much less. Stolen iPhones are only good for parts, since they can be remotely locked down and blacklisted from cellular networks, while stolen laptops will be limited in what Apple services they can use.
Since the “scheme” is so simple, arresting some members of one group is unlikely to put a complete stop to the practice, as anyone with a hoody and a disregard for the law can do it. Luckily, the fix also seems simple: Thieves are unlikely to want to tangle with a gun-toting police officer, so as long as Apple is willing to keep paying for the security, this particular problem may be solved.